Mark Kirk’s troubles continue to pile up as he seeks reelection for a second-term to a United States Senate seat in Illinois. The increasingly unpopular Mark Kirk is badly trailing U.S. Representative Tammy Duckworth by a widening margin of 42 percent to 36 percent. The latest Public Policy Polling (PPP) released today finds that “Mark Kirk’s popularity is plummeting, and he trails Tammy Duckworth in a hypothetical match up.” According to PPP, Kirk was already struggling when PPP last polled in the state of Illinois in February- only 28% of voters approved of the job he was doing to 32% who disapproved.
Kirk continues to insert his foot in his mouth with public statements he has made, some planned and some unplanned. Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL), a man in a tough race for reelection in a really blue state, made a crack during a recent U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee meeting. The Chicago Sun Times reported at the time that Kirk was caught on a “hot mic”, when he said during that hearing, “I’ve been joking with Lindsey. Did you see that? He’s going to have a rotating first lady. He’s a bro with no ho.”
That crack by Kirk set of a tidal wave of bad publicity for Kirk, as he was forced to backtrack. He finally apologized, not in person or into a “hot mic,” but through a “statement, reported Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun Times. “I apologize to the people of Illinois for my inappropriate remarks last week,” Kirk’s statement read, according to ABC7 News Chicago.
Very recently, a major fundraiser, Ron Gidwitz, expressed doubts about Kirk, saying that Kirk will be hobbled by a “series of recent verbal gaffes that have undermined public confidence in his ability to serve,” according to Greg Hinz in Crain’s Chicago Business.
“His misstatements put him and the Illinois Republican Party in too much of a defensive position” in what remains a predominantly Democratic state, Gidwitz told Hinz in a phone interview. “I do not believe he will be a U.S. senator in 2017 and, as top of the ticket, he could cause collateral damage (to other Republican candidates). I call on him to step aside and allow other Republicans to seek his seat.”
Gidwitz later retracted those remarks about Kirk, but the damage was already done.
Kirk famously said “The Republicans — if there is a successful attack during a DHS shutdown — we should build a number of coffins outside each Democratic office and say, ‘You are responsible for these dead Americans,'” Kirk said earlier this year. He again backed away fro the remarks.
Then there were these jaw-dropping comments highlighted by the Huffington Post:
I want to make sure we have elected people constantly looking at helping the African-American community. With this state and all of its resources, we could sponsor a whole new class of potential innovators like George Washington Carver and eventually have a class of African-American billionaires. That would really adjust income differentials and make the diversity and outcome of the state much better so that the black community is not the one we drive faster through.
Once again, Kirk was forced to back away from the comments.
That was it. After getting involved in a series of controversies over the last five months, Kirk’s numbers have turned even more in the wrong direction- now only 25% approve of him with his disapproval spiking up to 42%. Although a plurality of voters in the state (42%) have no opinion about Duckworth, she’s popular among the people who are familiar with her, with 34% rating her favorably to only 23% with an unfavorable view.
Duckworth is also the overwhelming favorite in the Democratic primary, leading Andrea Zopp 59-10. That includes a 57-13 advantage for Duckworth with African American primary voters. There’s a big electability gap for the Democratic hopefuls when it comes to a match up with Kirk-Zopp would do 15 points worse than Duckworth at this point, trailing Kirk 38/29, however.